The Power of Suggestions

suggestionbox.jpg

Our society, our government, and our media all make suggestions.

You probably know which ones of these you feel the most. Some that hit many of us hard include:

Be rich. Be perfect. Be productive. Be attractive. Be thin. Be compliant. Be afraid. Be a little person in this big, big, incontrollable world, as it spins so fast that whatever you do, it will not possibly make any kind of major difference.

At times these loud, persistent voices in our world may suggest that these ideas are truths.

And at times we may even believe them.

But we have the power to make our own, even more impactful suggestions.

These suggestions move from our thoughts to our behaviors, the little things we do or say each minute of our day. In each thought, and in each behavior that results, we affect everything we do and everywhere we go. This impacts everyone we interact with, everyone we meet, every single day of our lives. What we sometimes forget is that our thoughts and behaviors are actually within our power to shift and control. Your thoughts, when it comes down to it, are yours. Because of this, your words and your actions are yours, too. Every little choice you make adds up to something bigger.

Here’s the most important thing to remember, to make positive shifts in our lives and our world:

Enough of us… including ourselves… must believe it is possible.

We can start by revising our suggestions about who we are as individuals. About our worth. About our capabilities, our capacity to be loved, and our capacity to love. These attitudes we hold inside us have an impact on the lives of everyone around us. They stretch all around our inner circles, and extend throughout our society. With a change of belief, we can learn to love ourselves, even though we may have spent our lives seeing ourselves as imperfect. We can also love our country, even though we may see it as imperfect as well. We can look at ourselves and our situations from a multitude of angles, rather than just a place of frustration and despair. We can feel saddened and disillusioned about the state of our nation, but we can still see the positive aspects of what it stands for at its core: opportunity rather than poverty; diversity rather than hate; hope rather than fear.

In this critical moment in history, we must reflect on this fundamental truth. And we must turn our eyes and minds toward another truth, one evidenced throughout the history of humanity:

Change never happens because the established system wants it to. Change happens because of a critical mass of “regular” people, who share the hope and belief (individually, and collaboratively) that it is possible.

Through all of this, we must remember that we are not simply “regular” people. Our beliefs and our voices matter on a very real level, more than we even imagine.

Ask yourself the following:

How did the American revolution, which founded this country on the concept of freedom, actually begin… and succeed? It was not because the establishment wanted it to. It happened because enough individuals invested their beliefs into the idea that it was actually possible. Simply put: enough people believed, and the history of the world changed as a result.

This is not a call for any kind of war. This is a call for another kind of revolution. A revolution of belief, a revolution of togetherness, a revolution of love, and a revolution of positively-driven power. This will be the only real means for peace. It is a revolution in which we will make our voices heard, yes, but even more importantly: it will be a revolution where we listen, collaborate, and strengthen through the merging of our many aptitudes as individuals. We will join not only with people who appear to be like us, but also with people who, on the surface, appear not to be.

It will be a revolution in which we break out of the boxes where we often hide ourselves, and where we let our minds travel beyond the limits of the world’s echo chambers, those in which we only hear the voices that mirror our own worldview. We will move beyond our choices to spend time only with people who agree with us, or to seek out information that confirms what we already believe. It will be a revolution in which we truly listen, in which we truly care about the well-being of ourselves, our fellow humans, and our world. We will be moved by our hearts as well as our minds, our compassion as well as our strong yet long-suppressed desires, the ones that have been steadily building a persistent yearning for change.

Though we often feel alone in this world, most people who watch the news share the same horrified, and often hopeless, reaction. We do not respond functionally to fear. In our moments of clarity, we see that fear breeds nothing but apathy, disillusionment, hate, frustration, destruction, and pain. And if we look closely enough, we see that what most relieves our stress, alleviates our fears, frees our minds, and moves our hearts is love.

Believe in the change that the voice deep inside you truly calls for. Join with the people you know or can find who believe that positive change is possible. And remember the phrase that has long driven the soul of America, and the free world:

United we stand;

Divided we fall.

It’s not time to simply stay in bed or on the couch; it’s not time to spend our hours eating up the negative suggestions that bounce around our world on a daily basis. It’s time to embrace being creative, and to uncover what makes us feel alive. It’s time to speak and to hear, and to share the love that each and every one of us has to give. Though we may feel that this love has been buried deep inside us or left us long ago: believe me when I say, it is still there.

It isn’t time for us to crawl, people, and it’s definitely not time for us to fall.

Let’s unite and stand, United States, as our name suggests. Let’s unite and stand: that is my call to every individual, all around this wondrous and beautiful world… which, though it does seem big at times, has moments where it feels smaller than we ever imagined.

Uniting does not mean that we will all agree on everything. Uniting means that we will come to agree on one simple, yet powerful statement: that love is far greater than fear.

And as we believe in this statement together, we will not simply rise up.

We will rise above.

Advertisements

Soulful Encounters

This one caught my attention today:

I find a lot of truth in this, even though I am sure there was a point in my life where I wouldn’t have even understood it. But now, experience and introspection have led me to recognize what this person has so wonderfully put into words. On one level it expresses that we should not value  or judge ourselves by the way that others interact with or perceive us. But I like to look at it from another angle, which implies that the deeper we all go within and get to know ourselves, the more we will be able to fully, genuinely, and compassionately relate to each other.

This means recognizing and encountering the parts of ourselves that we may choose not to see, acknowledge, or even like… finding the places that we hide, and facing the aspects that we hate. As “A Course in Miracles” explains, we do not heal by bringing the light to the darkness. We heal by bringing the darkness to the light.

Which reminds me of something else I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, from my long-beloved Rumi:

When it comes down to it, the work we do within is the best thing we can contribute to our world. It’s the foundation, and it all goes outward from there. It shapes not only our own selves but ultimately (and actually, inevitably) deepens our relationships as well. This can in turn impact our communities and extend even farther beyond, but it has to start with an internal search and internal work.

From there, we can move away from telling other people how they should live (which is often counterproductive, resulting in them wanting to do the total opposite). In living through example, we can simply be ourselves and at the same time, demonstrate the infinite possibilities of what can happen when we change ourselves for the better.

From one writer to another…

“I wish I could find the perfect words.”

After months without posting or even reading on WordPress, I stumbled upon another blogger’s recent post, which ended with the line above.

My response is, as follows:

I honestly believe that those words, just they way you wrote them… are already perfect.

To me, they encompass the very reason we write in the first place. We may not be able to find the perfect words… now, or ever… but we can strive to… and in expressing ourselves, however painful it may feel sometimes, we can hope to come at least a little closer to understanding our own psyches and ultimately being understood by others.

I’ve been thinking of this line lately, in light of musician/songwriter Glenn Frey’s passing (from the song “Tequila Sunrise”):

“Take another shot of courage,
Wonder why the right words never come…”

Putting your heart on the page like this is an act of courage. Even though the words may not seem perfect to you, remember that for someone else reading your work, they just might be.

It’s funny… the whole reason I opened WordPress tonight was to upload a quote that I saw just beforehand and found inspiring:

Take_Time

“Take time to do what makes your soul happy.”

Now, in sitting down and writing for the first time in months… I think I’ve followed that advice without even consciously thinking about it.  The inspiration came, the thoughts started to flow, and that abstract quote that caught my eye about an hour ago has become something else entirely… something entirely real.

Bottom line:

If writing (or painting, or singing, or whatever your art may be) is what makes your soul happy, do it, and throw perfection to the wayside.

That’s what I’m striving for these days.  Taking time is the challenge, though… but for now, at least I’ve started… once again.

Even more so, I’m recognizing that this is just a series of imperfect words, on an imperfect page, coming from the mind and heart and soul of an imperfect person.

But with each attempt I make, I can come just a little closer to perfection.  To me, that’s why simply trying to create something out of nothing is the highest form of art, and the true marker of a life well lived.

Hope out of Hopelessness

During my trip to Europe in 2009, I was told several times: “You have to see the East Side Gallery.” At the time I wasn’t entirely sure what this meant. A little asking around and some digging up of information led me to learn that this was the new term for the East Side of the Berlin Wall… part of that monument of divisiveness that everyone inevitably knows about… which has now been transformed into a somewhat surprising gallery of painted artwork, all with a common theme: hope.

The translation of the East Side Gallery website says it best:

“101 large format images painted directly on the wall are for the joy of came down of the wall, for the overcoming of the Iron Curtain in Europe, the euphoria over the peace-won freedom of the persecution, spying and lack of freedom, the hope for a better, more human society. For personal stories, hopes and dreams.”

So, while exploring the gallery on one hazy August evening, I found what would be my favorite of these murals:

Berlin Wall circa August 2009

This image, with its borders of desolate branches evolving into blooms, has been coming up in my mind a lot lately. The text reads:

Many small people who
in many small places do many small things
that can alter the face of the world

It makes me wonder about my own actions and their consequences, and what steps, however small, I can take in the direction of a more peaceful planet. Imagining how some people might respond to this brings to mind a line from John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer… but I’m not the only one.” Even so… it’s those kind of seemingly innocuous dreams that can transform a symbol of fear and hate like the Berlin Wall into the longest-lasting and most expansive outdoor gallery on Earth.

Doing vs. Being

It’s amazing how words can come our way when we need to hear them the most.

Yesterday, my post was “liked” by another blogger (for the first time, in this brand new venture of mine). When I clicked over to his page out of total curiosity, the words he’d so artfully placed there hit me, without any pain, the way Bob Marley used to describe music. In that instant it felt almost like they were speaking directly to me, with exactly what I needed to hear:

Movement vs. Action by Oscar Relentos.

For me, there’s been this eternal debate of actively doing vs. just being, or letting things come naturally. Although my ultimate goal is a balance between the two, I know I am in a stage where I need to keep pushing myself forward… or, as Oscar says, “Push harder every damn day.”

But beyond that, I loved how he reflected on those moments where doing is a mere state of movement, in contrast to the moments where he takes a step back, breathes, and reminds himself of the importance to keep doing, but with purpose. That sense of intention is so important, in which we move beyond the ever-present force of habit and towards, as he states: “taking actions for the sake of improving myself as an individual, and doing what I can to improve upon those actions to optimize their benefit.”

It made me recall something I heard recently, while listening to a talk by author Neale Donald Walsch… that shifting our feeling of being stuck can start through recontextualizing our experiences… by asking ourselves why we do the things we do in our daily routines. Walsch suggested that everything we do is not for mere survival, but for furthering our personal development. Asking this question, while doing anything from office work to washing the dishes: “What does this that I’m doing have to do with the development of my soul?”, can bring clarity to life’s purpose and illuminate what we need to learn from our every action. I love the idea that everything, no matter how small it seems, can teach us something big (from steadfastness, to patience, to compassion, and beyond).

For me, this viewpoint is transformative. I know now that I will never stop being, but I can also push towards a greater sense of doing… but doing with intention, with a sense of purpose beyond all the apparent movement.

being-vs-doing

So… it’s occurring to me now, in looking at the image above, that perhaps “vs.” is not the term that I’m going for here. Perhaps these ideas aren’t completely against each other, not in total opposition, but more interwoven within our everyday lives. They’re alive in those moments where we embrace our being by taking a deep breath and reflecting, which can ultimately lead to moments of doing with a deeper sense of meaning. Each can encourage the other and, thus, help us become more whole.

Thank you, Oscar Relentos! You’ve gotten the ball rolling over here today. Happy writing, happy reflecting, and… stay curious!

Find & Seek

Today I go back to Elizabeth Gilbert, whose ideas helped me start this blog, and who has a new podcast called Magic Lessons (based on her new book Big Magic, on living creatively beyond fear). Click here and give it a listen, if you can:
http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/magic-lessons/

Even if you can’t give it a listen, I can tell you that the title of her most recent podcast comes from a quote from Rumi (the Sufi poet, whose work I get wrapped up in every time I read it). The original quote is as follows:

what_you_seek_Rumi

Lately, especially as I go on this journey into curiosity, I’ve found that these words are becoming truer than ever. Just yesterday, I’d almost posted another Rumi quote as my entry in this blog:

Rumi_pains_messengers

But, I saw something else and took it from a different angle (I guess that’s the good part of being curious, that you can uncover curiosity in all kinds of places).

Back to the first quote: “What you seek is seeking you.” I should preface this by saying that I have been endlessly searching for a while now, for a life that will be distinctively different than the one I was raised to believe I would have. Just lately, after starting a new set of meditations on grace and gratitude (another story, in and of itself… today is Day 19), I’m actually starting to see things fall into place… miraculously. The bits of information coming into my field of view, from articles to newsletters to ideas from other people in general, are all starting to center on the same theme: resources for finding clarity of purpose. In the meantime, my career path is just starting to take off, and I’m gaining more of a sense of direction… in essence, starting to feel a grasp on that road map I was looking for in my earlier post.

This morning, after tuning into the podcast on creativity mentioned above, I bumped into this post:
https://www.facebook.com/GilbertLiz/posts/865522170196566:0

In it, Liz maps out a game plan for gaining clarity in your life and the direction you are taking. It seems appropriate to discover some strategies for structuring what I am seeking, right as I am seeking it. I’m going to give this a go today and, as always, see where it takes me.

Following Through

Today, curiosity has led me not so much to reflection, but to following through on something that has interested me for a while now.

Months ago, a friend in Europe messaged me about the following film:

Based on the amount that he raved about it, I knew I had to see it, and the trailer had me even more hooked. An existential therapist, asking questions about human connection and the meaning of life? With my interest in counseling and psychology in general, all I could think was: sign me up! This is the kind of thing that I love, and I suspect it could teach me a whole lot as well. On the film’s website, it said it would be released in the US in Spring 2015… but even with some diligent searching, I’ve been unable to find any showtimes.

So today I finally filled out their contact form, crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to find out more and satisfy my longtime curiosity on this one.

More details can be found here:
http://www.yalomscure.com/en/